Four months ago, I was writing with some frequency about how weak the UFC's heavyweight division was. Today Kid Nate looks at the Top 25 heavyweights in MMA, and it reminds me how much has changed since July:
-- UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture returned from a yearlong self-imposed exile.
-- Brock Lesnar dominated Heath Herring and earned a title fight with Couture.
-- Interim champ Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and top contender Frank Mir have reached a wider audience as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter.
-- Newcomer Junior "Cigano" dos Santos destroyed Fabricio Werdum.
-- Gabriel Gonzaga ended his two-fight losing streak with a quick submission over Justin McCully
-- Cheick Kongo looked very impressive in beating Dan Evensen with a first-round TKO.
-- Cain Velasquez dominated Jake O'Brien in front of a large Spike TV audience.
-- Shane Carwin improved to 10-0, with all 10 fights ending in the first round.
Has the UFC's heavyweight division ever been as strong as it is right now? I don't think so.
Obviously, as long as Fedor Emelianenko is out there, the UFC heavyweight title holder will have a tough time convincing people that he's the best in the world. But the UFC has a chance to have some incredible heavyweight fights in 2009.
The Couture-Lesnar and Nogueira-Mir winners fighting each other will make for one of the biggest fights of the year, and fights involving the losers of those two fights as well as Cigano, Gonzaga, Kongo, Velasquez, Carwin and Werdum are going to be huge draws. We've got a whole lot of good heavyweight fights ahead of us.